POSITION PLAYER OF THE WEEK: OF Greg Jacobs, Inland Empire 66ers
The 25 year-old lefty hit a crisp .400 (8-20) in a four-game week for the California League, San Bernardino based Single- A Affiliate. Jacobs added three homeruns, six RBI, four runs scored and a .478 on-base average. The 66ers week was shortened due to the California League All Star game in which Jacobs and pitcher Ryan Ketchner represented the team. Jacobs raised his average to .335, sixth in the league. The icing on the cake for 66ers outfielder was his .600 average with runners in scoring position and his knack for driving in the tying or go-ahead runs. Four of Jacobs six RBI this week put the 66ers ahead or tied the score. Twice in one game Jacobs drove in the go-ahead run in the late innings. He is second in the league in doubles with 25, second in on-base percentage at .424, and second in slugging percentage at .590. He also ranks second in extra base hits with 39 and first in the league with 16 RBI after the sixth inning. Jacobs now has eight homeruns and 47 RBI on the year.
Wisconsin Timber Rattler 3B Matt Hagen hit .500 (5-10) in four games with two homeruns, four RBI, four runs scored, and six walks. The 23 year-old slugger is now hitting .265 with 13 homeruns and 45 RBI for the season. His 20 doubles and 45 RBI each rank fourth in the Midwest League and his 13 homeruns rank second...
Thirty-four year old veteran OF Jalal Leach had his best week of the season. Leach swung his way to a .500 average (8-16) with five RBI, four walks, three runs scored in five games for the triple-A Tacoma Rainiers...
Short season single-A affiliate Everett Aqua Sox opened their season on Wednesday June 18th and 19-year-old OF Josh Ellison sure didn’t miss the whistle. In his first four games of the year, Ellison, the Aqua Sox leadoff hitter and left fielder, went 8 for 16 (.500) with five runs scored, four stolen bases, two RBI, two doubles, and a triple. Talk about starting the year of with a bang! Ellison finished off the week going 4 for 4 in Sunday’s 4-3 win at Spokane.
PITCHER OF THE WEEK: RHP Rett Johnson, Tacoma Rainiers
Johnson, 23, was called up late last week and got his first start at Triple-A on Friday night versus Memphis. Johnson, the seventh-ranked prospect on the M’s hot prospect list by Baseball America magazine to start 2003, pitched like a #1 prospect, going seven innings while surrendering just three hits and one unearned run. He walked two and struck out five. The Texas League All Star was in control from the beginning and did not falter when his defense crumbled behind him. In fact it seemed to make him focus even more. With his parents listening via the internet from their South Carolina home, the 6-2 220-pounder got tough when the going got rough. Memphis never seriously threatened again against him in the Rainier’s easy 7-1 victory. Johnson has definitely made an impression on the Mariners brass this year and seems to be on track to see some time in Safeco perhaps this upcoming September.
Tacoma's 25-year-old Aaron Taylor pitched his way out of the doghouse really fast this week after blowing two saves last week. In 2 games, he logged in 6.2 innings, allowed just five hits, one earned run, one walk and three strikeouts. Taylor lowered his ERA to a stingy 2.58.
Top Prospect Clint Nageotte is back to his old tricks. After a few mediocre starts and one really awful one, San Antonio's Nageotte went back to the basics and is again on track after a strong seven inning stint this week. In that outing, he allowed just two hits, one earned run and struck out eight. Walks are still a problem, however, as his base on balls that game indicate. Nageotte seems poised to string together several strong outings and if he does, he'll likely follow former teammate Rett Johnson to Tacoma. The 22-year-old righty is tied for 2nd in the Texas League in strikeouts with 75, and has got that nasty slider back that he had working earlier in the season.
As was expected, there were several roster moves recently to cover injuries, rehabilitation assignments and just plain old promotions. Expect more to come as top prospects work their way to the top and the nagging injuries pile up at every level. A few of the players that might be due promotions include Inland lefty Troy Cate, Wisconsin lefty Bobby Livingston, Inland Empire OF Greg Jacobs, and San Antonio’s duo of 1B AJ Zapp and OF Chris Snelling.
Jason resides in North Tacoma, WA, where his father is his best friend, his mother has a better fastball than he does, and his nephew is the only person better suited for stardom. Feedback is always welcome at JasonAChurchill@cs.com.